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Newly Accessible Penn Station Entrance Embraces Holiday Frenzy 

By Pothanamathya Reddy Vangala, Project Executive

Penn Station Elevator
Photo Credit: Amtrak | Fernando Sandoval

As the holiday season draws to a close, New York City is witnessing a remarkable resurgence in tourism, with visitor numbers inching close to pre-pandemic levels. The city is anticipated to attract 60 million visitors in 2023, just shy of the previous record of 66.6 million set in 2019, as reported by New York City Tourism + Conventions marketing agency.

Waves of commuters, travelers, and New Year’s Eve revelers continue to flood through the doors of New York’s Penn Station, recognized as the busiest transit hub in the Western Hemisphere.

Whether they are commuting via the New York City subway system, arriving from Nassau and Suffolk Counties on the Long Island Rail Road, crossing the Hudson River on New Jersey Transit or journeying along the Northeast Corridor on Amtrak, Penn Station serves as a gateway, extending a warm welcome to travelers from both near and far to the Greatest City in the World.

It is truly wonderful that this central hub of transit, commerce, and activity is now equally inclusive and welcoming to all.

Penn Station Elevator
Photo Credit: Amtrak | Fernando Sandoval

In late November, a ribbon-cutting ceremony marked the reopening of Penn Station's entrance at 7th Avenue and 32nd Street. A collaborative effort between Amtrak and Vornado Realty Trust, a major New York landlord, the revamped entrance now welcomes visitors under a glass canopy that allows natural light to flow in, rectifying an issue caused by the concrete overhang installed over half a century ago.

Importantly, the entrance has been equipped with a new elevator that complies with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) standards, along with three new high-quality escalators providing access to the mezzanine level. This replaces the outdated two-escalator entrance that had been in use since the 1960s.

Forte Construction Corp. takes pride in having spearheaded the installation of the station's new elevator and escalators. These additions not only provide an alternative for people with limited mobility, eliminating the need to squeeze into the often-overcrowded elevator at 34th and 7th Avenue, but also offer improved accessibility for all people with physical limitations and disabilities, families pushing strollers, travelers burdened with heavy luggage, and anyone who might otherwise face difficulties with stairs.

“We are proud to roll out the welcome mat to our new, modern entrance for the 600,000 daily New York Penn Station visitors,” said Amtrak CEO Stephen Gardner. “Having a direct, accessible entrance at 32nd and 7th will improve the customer experience for all passengers as they can now take an elevator, walk down wider stairs, and have an added third escalator to help them enter or exit the station.”

The marquee Penn Station revitalization project has not only enhanced the station’s interior but also created a more user-friendly environment outside its doors.

Vornado worked with the NYC Department of Transportation to significantly widen the sidewalks on 7th Avenue between West 31st and 33rd Streets for improved navigation and crowd mitigation. Monumental new signage, visible from blocks away, further contributes to a more user-friendly experience.

Amtrak has invested $770 million in station accessibility projects across its system since 2011. These upgrades are especially significant for the nearly 1 in 4 adults in the U.S. with various disabilities, as reported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Whether individuals face challenges related to hearing, vision, cognition, mobility, self-care, or independent living, creating a network of railway and subway stations that caters to everyone is crucial for their long-term success.

Notably, Amtrak has set an impressive goal of achieving 100% compliance across all its facilities by 2029.

As a new ADA-compliant door opens at Penn Station, signaling inclusivity, it becomes a station that caters to passengers of all backgrounds, serving as a gateway to New York travelers and beyond.

Kudos to the great team of construction professionals at Forte Construction, who played a pivotal role in bringing this project to fruition and earning magnificent reviews!


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